The Worth of True Alms

Salaam and Greetings of Peace Dear Friends:

Blogging is new to me, and since I am a darvish  (which is the same as a dervish) of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, I ask your forgiveness if I offend anyone unintentionally.

An old Sufi tradition advises us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through four gates. At the first gate, we ask ourselves, "Are these words true?" If so, we let them pass on. At the second gate we ask; "Are they necessary?" At the third gate we ask; "Are they beneficial?" and at the fourth gate, we ask, "Are they kind?" If the answer to any of these is no, then what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

This may leave me with very little to say, but nonetheless I will begin as a darvish would. I have therefore asked God’s blessing and cleared my heart of motives related to my self, for surely no blessings come to any endeavor in which selfish motives have a part. Now, there is a spiritual core of love that every human being has, whether they acknowledge it or not. It is sometimes called the soul, that ineffable divine spark that links us to every other living being on earth, and to the infinite Source of creation, that Oneness of which we are all a part.  How does it manifest itself if it cannot be seen or measured? By love. By love alone is God known. It is neither emotion, though it may appear as such in humans, nor rational, though its immutable laws govern this world and the next. Every miracle is an act of love, every forward movement of evolution is an act of love, as the creation moves closer to the Creator. 

That said, the Los Angeles City Council recently passed an ordinance that made it illegal to sit, lay down or sleep on the sidewalk. This law was, of course, meant for the homeless, whose poverty is an embarrassment to the city and its tourists. A Federal Appeals Court struck down the law as unconstitutional, more power to them, and now the City Council plans to appeal.

How sad. They are blind to the worth of true alms, to both love and mercy, as in the tale of Moses and the beggar. 

Moses walked alone into the desert and prayed, beseeching God.  "O Lord, for many years I have been Thy faithful servant, yet Thou hast never entered my house, nor broken bread with me.  Wilt Thou not come and sup in my house?"

            And God was well pleased with the request, and answered him: "Yea, Verily!  Truly thou hast been My faithful servant, and so I will come this very evening to thy dwelling and break bread with thee!"

            Moses was delighted that he was to be granted this special grace, and made swiftly for home, ordering his household as to the preparations, and cooking with his own hands a great feast worthy of the Lord.

            When all was in readiness and the supper hour drew near, Moses dressed in his finest robes and waited outside his house, pacing in his eagerness.  Many of the people were about at this hour, returning home from their day's labors, and they bowed in greeting as they passed him.

            He returned their greetings distractedly until an old man in the crowd, a beggar, came up to him and bowed low.  He was clothed in rags and leaned heavily upon a staff of sandalwood.  "Great sir," said the old man, " will thee not share some small portion of thy bounty with one of lesser fortune?  By the adab, the tradition of courtesy, I ask it."

            "Yea, yea…" answered Moses kindly, but impatiently.  "You shall have your fill, and coins for your purse also.  But you must come back later.  I await an important guest now, and have no time for thee."

            So the beggar walked on and Moses waited.  Hour after hour all through the night he paced and waited, but the Lord did not come. Now Moses was greatly disconcerted.  He wept exceedingly and slept not at all.  The very thought that God had forgotten him struck him to the heart. At dawn he again walked into the desert.  Weeping, he rent his garments and prostrated himself upon the ground.

            "O Lord!" he cried, "How have I offended Thee, that Thou did not come to my house as Thou had promised?"

"O Moses," said the Lord,  “I was the beggar who leaned upon his staff, whom thou bid depart. Know ye that I am in all My creation, and what thou apportion to the least of My servants, thou apportion to Me!"

10 Responses to The Worth of True Alms

  1. otreesparrow says:

    A thousand petals from a thousand roses in contemplation of such a worthwhile endeaver, and the sweetness it will bring. :)

  2. Richard says:

    Thank you for this post!!! I have read it before on one of the Sufi yahoo groups and have been keeping it in mind before I open my big mouth!



  3. Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    Welcome to the blogging world dear brother. And what a lovely entrance!

  4. Ali Ahadpour says:

    Salaam Dear Brother Irving

    Wonderful Blog, wonderful first post, thanks for helping to steer all of us fellow seekers of our Rabb- Allah , to the correct and true path to him.

    Wa Salaam


  5. Miriam says:


    A wonderful start to a great blog! Congradulations! While I will be gone this summer on assignment, I will direct readers to you who are interested in Islamic peacebuilding, dialogue and Sufism, as you have been a role model to me (and continue to be!). wa-salaam dear brother, “Sabbie”

  6. Yafiah says:

    Salaam Brother Irving,

    A lovely and impressive entrance into the world of blogging! Welcome. The story of Moses reminds me not to be so absorbed in my own imagination that I miss the Real in front of me. I intend to be a regular reader of your wise words.

    Ya Hayy!

  7. matt says:

    Salams bro!

    Ahalan wa sahalan! Allah hiya hey! (shooting 6 rounds of an AK47 into the air: tarhib bidoun nifaq!) MARAHABAN ALF!

    glad you took the plunge bro was suprised when you said you didn’t have anything to say (!!?!) & happy to see Almighty God Moved thine heart back towards Himself, regarding this

    May God(Exalted Be HE!) Bless you in your blogging endeavours & may He Let your words Be read in the 4 corners of the earth and may they manifest Change in the hearts of those who chance upon them

    a salatu wa salam ‘ala sayidinna Muhammed walahi wa ijma’een


  8. Hakeem says:

    Salaam……Blogging is new to me too.
    But your words are true, they were necessary,
    benefit to sufis and kind to all. Good work.
    May Allah multiply ur wisdom. Amin.

    Yah Haqq

  9. peter daley says:

    Not much into blogging myself, but yours is a very good one. I do not understand the obsession with the Ka,aba, but we are all slaves to a tradition of some sort, at least to begin with and then we should abandon them. P.S. You might make the print a bit larger. Check my website if you are interested in the weird and wonderful. Truth is Stranger Than Fiction!

  10. Maliha says:

    welcome to blogging br. Irving. I had been wondering why you didn’t make your entrance sooner.

    Your posts remind me of something i had long forgotten.

    Thanks for staying true to the essence and keep writing and enriching this sterile medium.

    take care.

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